What will the pharmacist ask you when buying the morning after pill?

If you’ve had unprotected sex or experienced a contraceptive failure, such as a broken condom or a missed contraceptive pill, you may be thinking about taking emergency contraception. You might feel a bit nervous or embarrassed about talking to a pharmacist and wondering what kind of questions they’ll ask you.

The morning after pill is an over-the-counter medication in the UK, meaning you do not need a prescription and can pick it up at pharmacies or sexual health clinics. Entering the pharmacy can feel a bit daunting, but it’s important to remember that you are making a responsible decision in doing what’s right for you, and having sex is nothing to be ashamed of. Pharmacists are trained health professionals and help people with lots of personal things every day –  they’re not shocked by sex!

How to ask for the morning after pill

When accessing the morning after pill at a pharmacy, you can ask to speak to a pharmacist in a private room to help you feel more at ease and discuss emergency contraception away from the shop floor. While some may prefer to do this, you can alternatively ask for the morning-after pill over the counter. 

Trials have shown that ellaOne is 2.5x more effective than levonorgestrel if taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex*, so if you would like to receive ellaOne, you can ask the pharmacist specifically. Pharmacists are trained to be quick and discreet, but they will ask you a few questions to see whether ellaOne is a suitable choice for you.

*Verify at: ellaone.co.uk/verify  

You can also order ellaOne® online  for discreet delivery. When ordering you will fill in a questionnaire which contains the questions you’d be asked at a pharmacy to check whether ellaOne is the right choice for you.

Questions a pharmacist will ask you about taking the morning after pill

Before the pharmacist can give you the morning after pill, they will ask you some questions to discuss if emergency hormonal contraception is suitable for you. We know you might be worried about the questions they might ask, so we created a suitability checklist to help you feel more at ease when talking to the pharmacist.

One of the first questions you will be asked is when you had unprotected sex or contraception failure. The sooner after sex emergency contraception is taken, the more effective it will be, although we understand this is not always possible. ellaOne is effective up to five days after sex and levonorgestrel is effective for up to three, so it is important to keep that in mind. 

You will be asked about your age and if you are under 16 the pharmacist may ask you questions regarding your sex life, due to your being under the age of consent. Remember that you do not need a parent’s permission or knowledge to access emergency hormonal contraception. Pharmacists are trained in safeguarding with the aim of keeping people safe and being able to provide resources and information if they could be in danger. 

Other questions will cover if there is a chance you are pregnant or breastfeeding. You will be asked about your period, such as when your last one was and roughly how long your cycles are. This is because emergency contraception works by delaying ovulation and will therefore not be effective if you have already ovulated, so it’s important that your pharmacist can get an idea of where you are in your cycle. You will be asked about your usual form of contraception, as emergency contraception should not be used in place of regular contraception. 

Pharmacists are now able to sell forms of progestogen-only daily contraceptive pills over the counter, such as Hana. If you’re interested in a regular form of hormonal contraception you can ask the pharmacist whether this would be suitable for you. As well as being asked about health conditions and medications, they may discuss other health symptoms, such as pain during or after sex, pain while urinating or whether you experience any irregular bleeding or discharge.

While the pharmacist will ask you a variety of questions, there are things you do not need to discuss when getting emergency contraception. For example, you do not need to show your ID at the pharmacy and there is no need to give any personal details such as your address, or even your name if you wish. Furthermore, your pharmacist should not ask you about your medical information, such as your GP, as everything is strictly confidential, even if you are aged 13 to 16, you still have the same rights to confidentiality as an adult, providing your pharmacist believes you fully understand the information given to you.

Questions you may want to ask the pharmacist

It’s normal to have questions about this for your pharmacist and you’re more than welcome to ask them anything that you’re concerned about. It can help to write your questions down beforehand so that you remember to ask all the questions you may have. The morning after pill will come in a box with a comprehensive package leaflet which has all the information you need about taking it, but it can help to ask the pharmacist if anything is confusing or if you would like something explained differently. You can see ellaOne’s package leaflet here. 

You may have some other worries such as whether the morning after pill will go on your health record or whether you’ll have to discuss this with another doctor. The good news is that it does not. The morning after pill does not go on your record and the only time you’ll need to discuss this again is if you throw up within three hours of taking it, as it will then not be effective and you may need to take another. You are welcome to ask the pharmacist anything that you may be wondering, whether it’s about the side effects or how to take it. They are there to help you feel at ease. 

Remember that taking the morning after pill is nothing to be ashamed of. Sex happens, accidents happen, and you have every right to protect yourself from unplanned pregnancy. If you’ve taken the morning after pill, why not share your story by clicking the button below to help reassure others.

ellaOne® 30mg film-coated tablet contains ulipristal acetate and is indicated for emergency contraception within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sexual intercourse or contraceptive failure.

Hana® 75µg film-coated tablets contains desogestrel and is an oral contraception for women of child bearing age to prevent pregnancy. Always read the instructions on the package leaflet carefully.